(Inside: Do you need your daily dose of funny stories about parenting? All these stories are based on true experiences of raising tweens and teens. Laugh your way through parenting.)
You might be parenting teens and/or tweens if you can relate to these stories…
Your sweet 11-year-old daughter bursts into the kitchen while you drop spaghetti noodles into boiling water.
“Mom, I had so. much. fun at Joe’s house.” (Your neighbor boy.)
“Joe was bored so we wandered around his house for a bit trying to find something to do.”
Like a freight train at warp speed, your daughter’s words pour out…she describes how she fluffed the living room pillows. (“Joe only has brothers – they don’t notice those kinds of things.”) Then, she continued describing how the living room looked after the fluffing was complete. She does not care that you’ve been to your neighbor’s house a million times before, she’s finishing. her. description. by. goodness.
You nod and “uh-huh” as you listen.
Then she launches into a story of Joe and her deciding what to do. She details the choices they brainstormed and how they whittled down the list. She outlined how they decided to build Legos, whose idea it was, and in great detail explained every… aspect… of…the Lego creation they built. You feel you were with her on every piece selected and snapped into place.
Her voice rises and falls and great dramatic gestures are displayed as you… make dinner, set the table, and call the family to wash up. Your Chatty Cathy briefly pauses as you bless the food (Thank you, Jesus), then continues through the eating of cheesy bread and pasta. A little brother tries to interject but the cutie-pie with chestnut hair gives a stern glare securing her senior position on the floor.
As you scrape the rest of your plate, you glance at the clock. She’s talked for 40 minutes straight.
How long was your daughter at Joe’s house?
How is that even possible, you wonder? But you’re too scared to ask. That’ll lock you into another 15 minutes for sure…
“Mom, I don’t think Santa’s real.” your youngest son states.
Your head snaps up. You know you’ve let the believe-in-Santa gig carry on a little too long with your tween, but he’s your youngest kid. He might be ready to give up Santa, but you might not be ready to let him give it up. It’s accepting that you actually are a middle-aged woman and that your children will become adults and move out. (Tears.) You realize your baby (I mean tween) might get teased by his peers for still believing, but that’s a price he just might have to pay to let you hold onto your youth for one. more. day.
In response to your kid’s declaration, you try not to show panic on your face. You breathe deep. You smile. Yes, smiling is good you tell yourself. You also tell yourself I am young because even if it isn’t true it makes you feel good and you deserve to feel good.
“Why don’t you think Santa’s not real?” you cheerfully ask. You expect the how-can-he-visit-billions-of-kids-homes-in-one-night question. You’ve heard that before and you have answers. Or even the how-can-reindeer-fly question. (Easy-peasy – magic words and pixie dust, you’ll say.)
But your kid doesn’t ask that. He says…
“Because all the toys he leaves you can buy on Amazon. And I don’t think he owns the right to reproduce all those exact toys. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal.”
Amazon sold you out. If he knows about copyright/patent laws, your son is too old to believe. You’re going to have to drop the Santa-is-in-fact-not-real bomb right then and there.
In protest, you decide to cancel your Amazon subscription. Immediately – because you feel betrayed and annoyed and that you need to start buying that anti-aging cream that costs as much as your car.
Who are you kidding? You can’t cancel Amazon.
You are now Santa and your kid knows it.
Your energy bill makes your eyes bug out. It’s not the cost – that seems about right – it’s the bar chart that compares your energy use with that of your neighbors.
The first bar represents the frugal neighbors’ energy use. Their bar is short and efficient, just like them. This doesn’t bother you, you are no “tree hugger” (but thank goodness for them), so onward.
The second bar shows the “average use” neighbors. Their bar sticks out a solid length in the middle and seems to taunt you just a bit. The mom with one more kid than you down the street can get this right, why can’t you?
Then, there’s you. The sky-high bar declares with zest you and your offspring as inefficient. You stare at your bar. You challenge it to Harry Potter it’s way down to the same height as the “average use” neighbors, but it doesn’t budge.
Then you feel your anger bubble. Deep within you, the rage begins to rise. You love the earth; wasteful living is not your goal. You fume…
What is wrong with my people. Don’t they love the environment? At the very least, don’t they love me, their frugal momma? The retirees can get this right. Even the family with the pool is beating us in efficient-energy-use.
You’re mad…and determined that the planet isn’t going down because of your family. So after church, when your kids just heard an awesome biblical lesson on love and kindness and minding your mother (you might’ve added the last part), you gather them around the lunch table.
“Listen,” you say. “Our energy bill gave us a year-end summary of our efficiency use. All the neighbors are beating us. Like, we’re using waaaaay too much energy. What can we do?” (You’ve learned the skill-set of questioning until your people think that your idea is theirs. You’re ready for this conversation.)
“Take shorter showers,” your kids say.
Yes, you nod. Your kids are so smart. They take after you. You knew you were raising geniuses.
“Spend more time at other’s peoples’ houses so we use their energy,” your kids add on.
No, you shake your kid. Your kids aren’t smart. You graduated Summa Cum Laude from college. How come your kids are so dumb?
Instead of running water, fill the sink 1/3 the way full and use that to scrub off the dishes before they go in the dishwasher. Use cups more than once. Don’t throw all the clothes in the laundry if they aren’t really dirty. You continue with all the ways to be efficient…
You’re feeling hopeful. Your kids are getting this. These are their ideas. They will follow through. They love trees and clean air and animals. They will do their part. They’ll take care of our beautiful, yet fragile earth.
They’re good kids.
And you’re a good mom.
You finish lunch and your kids clean up. They scrub plates and cups and forks just like you explained. You go about your business while your kids finish their chore and exit the kitchen.
Five minutes later you re-enter the empty, clean kitchen to see how your kids faired.
The kitchen sink is still running. Water is slowly coming out in a steady stream with no one in sight to turn it off.
You’ll try again with this same conversation tomorrow.
My life is surrounded by tweens and teens. I’m raising three, my friends are collectively raising a billion and I teach high school. From my life (and antics my fellow moms and high school students share with me), these are my stories. (As always – because I love my people, I’m careful with what and how I share their stories. I sometimes change minor details for privacy reasons.)
What are the funny things your tweens/teens have done? Leave your stories in the comments.
Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.